When marching headfirst into battle, there is one immutable fact that is known by warriors of all descriptions: one soldier does not an army make. Be they tacticians behind the front lines, or troops standing shoulder to shoulder, each individual requires assistance. But let’s focus on the grand scale conflicts for now, let’s focus on war.
Labelled by history as the Hundred Year War, this drawn out clash saw England and France at each others throats. Why am I mentioning this particular conflict from the past you ask? Well that is because Bladestorm: Nightmare throws us headlong into this fight, already well into its excessive time span. In lieu of controlling any particular figure from either England or France, we are given nought but the title of Mercenary and a character creation menu. Thus we enter the fray as our possibly anachronistic, impossibly cool fighter.
As they so often are, a tutorial is found at the beginning of this game, explaining the basics of how Bladestorm’s combat mechanic works. Rather than controlling you character singularly, you are given a cadre of troops who follow your every command. Well, your every four commands to be specific. One basic attack, one defensive manoeuvre and two alternate strikes round out your list. Apart from the basic attack, these moves each have a recharge delay after every use, forcing you to be a little tactical with when you utilise them.
Simplicities aside, the game also implements a scissor, paper, rock style class system, wherein (as you may have already guessed) some classes perform better against others. To gain the benefits of this, you are able to shift control from one troop type to another, through which your character will switch weaponry. Though this itself is not too difficult to grasp, the chaos of battle can often make it difficult to discern not only which troops are yours and which belong to the enemy, but also which nearby classes are available to shift to. Should you have another mercenary on your side however, one of whom so helpfully offered there assistance in the preview demo, you are able to change control between them and whichever troops they happen to be leading at the time.
But it doesn’t stop there my friends, mercenaries are also able to join their forces together for one all out attack, useful in crushing the defences of the larger bases…did I mention basses yet? I probably should have. Not too far from the norm of this genre, gameplay revolves around capturing enemy strongholds and defeating the commanders who are flushed out in the ensuing attack, such is war. Capturing the pre-requisite locations leads to victory and another notch in your mercenary belt. It’s a win, win, lose situation.
Gameplay aside, it’s easy to tell that Bladestorm is a HD re-release of an older title. That isn’t to say the game looks awful, just dated. The same can also be said for the dialogue both within the hub menu and battle, presenting a segmented speech pattern that just screams script read lines. The low selection of battle cries also sees to it that altering class becomes a touch aggravating when your mercenary screams “Let’s do it!” or “Bring it on!” each and every time.
Though the control scheme is a tad clunky and it is far from a stellar entry in the lexicon of videogaming, Bladestorm: Nightmare possess a combat system that I really haven’t experienced before. The direct way in which you manage your forces is a nice twist on the hack n’ slash genre and one that provides enough for me to be interest in this title. As far as I can see it, if you don’t go into Bladestorm with too high expectations, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and find yourself having fun. Not that war is fun mind you…except in videogames. I also can’t ignore how immensely satisfying it was to ride through the battlefield on horseback, effortlessly felling all who stood before me. Try it yourself, you’ll see what I mean.